Unit Affiliation: Marine/Large Programs, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)
The antiquity of human occupation in the New World is one of the major unresolved cultural-historical problems in America prehistory. In this proposed study, we will use the varnish microlamination (VML) dating technique to determine ages of surface stone artifacts in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park of California. Results from our pilot study indicate that some stone artifacts from the park were likely manufactured by prehistoric humans around 42.85-45.65 ka. This VML-based age estimate for those stone artifacts suggests an early human presence in North America, which is at least 10,000-13,000 years older than the radiocarbon dated 31-33 ka human occupation at the Chiquihuite Cave in northern Mexico. This finding, if proved to be true, will cast doubt on the current archaeological theories about how and when the Americas were first colonized. This study will also yield new evidence to bolster some previously claimed old but still controversial pre-Clovis sites in North America (such as the Early Man site in Santa Rosa Island, southern California).